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Expectations are high for wind power generation in Japan, but operating rate is not increasing

In response to a growing trend in countries all over the world to undertake serious efforts for realizing “carbon neutrality,” the number of initiatives aimed at expanding renewable energy is increasing. The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, too, has called for the substantial expansion of renewable energy, which was stated in the Strategic Energy Plan drawn up in 2021. In the Plan, there is a particular focus on expanding onshore and offshore wind power generation, with numerical targets being set, such as increasing onshore wind power generation to 17.9 GW in FY2030, an approximately four-fold increase compared with FY2019, and an approximately six-fold increase in offshore wind power generation to 5.7 GW.
According to the Japan Wind Power Association, a total of 2,574 wind turbines are in operation in Japan, generating 4.58 million kW of electric power (as of the end of 2021). However, according to investigations by government councils and other bodies, a guaranteed operating rate of 97% is quite common in Europe, while in Japan, the annual operating rate (operating hours ÷ total hours in a year) of wind power generation equipment has been averaging 87%, and even the operating rate of the equipment installed since 2011 has leveled out at 92%. It is said that the low operating rate is one of the factors behind the expansion of wind power generation not moving forward.

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